Momentum Podcast: 55

The Tactics of Playing to Win

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

The majority of Entrepreneurial Personality Types don’t play to win, they play not to lose. This may sound like the same thing but it isn’t. Unfortunately far too many of us make a commitment to an outcome or a goal and immediately begin de-escalating that commitment. This is clearly playing not to lose and will rarely get you what you want. 

If you set a goal that you are committed to, prove it to yourself by consistently escalating your commitment. Play to win and you will achieve your goals and so much more.

Full Audio Transcript

I'm Alex Charfen. This is the Momentum podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot-takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy. We are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution.

Sure we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, and then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny: we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority; the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. Instead of just daydreaming what could be, we endure the vulnerability and the exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly, the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only consistent source of positive human evolution, and we always will be. This is Episode 55 of the Entrepreneurial Personality Type, The Tactics of Playing to Win.

Awhile ago ... actually a long time ago, I had a consultant of mine say, "It's too bad that the majority of people play not to lose instead of playing to win." I remember asking him about it and having a conversation with him about it. He explained that so many of us de-escalate our commitment right when we start. Since I had that conversation, it's crazy how often I see that de-escalation, that hedge. Entrepreneurs and people in general, they'll set a goal and they will immediately start backing out of it. If you want to play to win, here's the key: make a commitment and then escalate your commitment on a consistent basis, and don't de-escalate that.

Now, let me explain what this means. I want to show you one of the most common types of de-escalation of commitments. You hear something from someone, and they'll say something like, "You know what? I've been so good on my diet and even though I was going to lose 20 pounds by the middle of next year, I decided I'm going to have a small piece of cake just because it's your birthday." Hey, that seems like an innocent statement; isn't it? It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. But when we break it down, what is it really is an escalation towards a commitment? No, it's a de-escalation.

Here's one of the most dramatic de-escalations that you hear from people. You hear someone say something like, "I've made the commitment. I've set the goal. I'm going to start working out regularly January 1st." What does that even mean? I'll ask someone, "Are you preparing to work out? Are you getting ready for it?" Because in some cases, you might need some preparation. You need to build a gym. You need to get equipment. But they'll say, "No. I just decided I'm going to do it January 1st." I'll say, "Well, it's December 7th. Why don't you start now?" "Well, I want to go through the holiday season. I don't really want to start before that." Is this really a commitment or is this just some future fantasy you have that you're going to start working out? If you're going to start working out, start right now, or you're literally de-escalating before you start.

You hear people say things like, "I've done so good on my debt reduction plan. I've paid off a lot of my money. I've decided that I'm just going to treat myself and break my budget this month." Okay. I get it. It's a de-escalation, and you're rewarding yourself. But are you really escalating the commitment towards your goal?

Here's what I know about people like us: when we escalate our commitment, when we say, "Hey, I'm going to get into really good shape. I've decided I'm going to work out every morning. I've got a commitment. I've got accountability partner. I've told my friends about it. I'm keeping metrics. I'm measuring things." Those are all escalations of the commitment to working out. That's how you ensure that you're actually going to achieve what you want.

I have a theory as to why so many entrepreneurs de-escalate commitments. We set goals that we don't really want. Does the person who says they're going to start a diet next month really want that diet? Do they really want to go on the diet? Do they really care about what they're doing, or is the fact that they're delaying starting that for as long as possible because in the present today, they don't have high enough commitment to that goal. For you, if you set a goal, if you have something you want to achieve, my question for you is are you consistently escalating commitment or are you allowing yourself to de-escalate; because I know how people like us work.

Now, you may be the exception to the rule, but here's what I found with entrepreneurs: if we escalate our commitment, if we continue to hold ourselves in check, if we hold ourselves accountable, we achieve our goals at a rate far greater than the rest of the population. But if we start de-escalating the commitment, if we allow cracks in the armor around the goal that means something to us, then it can often crumble.

You know what this looks like. I've coached too many entrepreneurs to deny that this exists. It's this condition where you start the diet, and everything's going great. Then you make it a week. You make it two weeks, and it's a struggle and things are going right. The metrics are going in the right direction. You feel better. You start getting the momentum. Then you have that day where's it's, "Hey, just because it's your birthday, I'm going to have a sliver of cake." Then the sugar hits the stomach, and you've de-escalated the commitment towards the goal. You've actually taken a step backwards.

You tell me. I mean, haven't you done exactly that in a diet situation or something else where you were trying to hold yourself accountable to an outcome. It's a sliver of cake. Three days later it's a double cheeseburger at lunch; because we're hunters. When you go on a hunt, you commit to that hunt. When you go out to do something, to achieve something, you've made the commitment that you're going to make it happen. Any de-escalation, any turning away from that goal, any move away from the destination that we committed to for ourselves, de-escalates the entire path through which we get there.

The way that I've learned to set and achieve goals is one, I make sure that it's something that's really important to me; something that I actually want; something that when it happens in my life, it's going to improve my life. I get all the leverage I can. I write down why I want it. What it's going to do for me. What is hurting me right now? I have a process that I go through that I teach my clients. It's actually in our Momentum Masterclass where you lower the pressure and noise. You get clarity around what you want. You get all the leverage you possibly can so that you continue to escalate commitment.

The second thing that I do is I keep metrics. I keep measurements. I make sure that I'm actually achieving; that I have clarity as to what's going on; that I know what's happening because that feedback keeps things moving in the right direction for me. Then I always ask myself the question, "Am I escalating or de-escalating?" If I ever have the urge to de-escalate, if I ever have the inclination to take a step backwards, I go right back to the beginning and think to myself, "How important is this goal to me?"

The tactics of playing to win are pretty easy. You make a commitment, you measure your progress there, and then on a daily basis, every time you think about that commitment, you escalate your commitment. You do more. "I'm going to get in shape in the next 60 days." If you're working out one time a day and it's going well for you and you're doing it three times a week, maybe you add a fourth. If you really want to get out of debt and you've already paid off a lot of that debt, figure out what else you can cut out of your budget and escalate the commitment towards that debt.

If you want to get into shape, change your physiology, figure out what goal is going to mean something to you. Put as much leverage around it as you possibly can. Then consistently escalate your commitment; get healthier, move more towards optimizing your physiology, read more about it, join a club, join a membership, talk to other people that are doing the same thing. Because here's what I know about people like us: when we set a goal that we care about and we escalate our commitment consistently, the end result is that we achieve what we want and so much more.

Here's what might be the most important part of all: I want you to think about the goals that you have in your life right now. If they're not written down, go write them down. Get them in ink. Make them real. If they're in your head, they're a fantasy. They're an imagination. They're not real goals. I have my clients tell me all the time, "Well, I have everything that I want to do in my head. I just haven't' written it all down." Well, then you really don't have it. You have a perception of what you want to do.

First, write them down. Then ask yourself, what can you do to escalate your commitment towards those goals? What can you do to make them even more important; to put more tactics in place; to put more systems, more structure around getting there? Then ask yourself consistently, "Am I escalating or de-escalating?" Here's what I want you to be really careful of is that if you set a goal and you start backing away from it, if you start de-escalating it, like the person who says, "I'm going to start a diet January 1st," that is a stated de-escalation. That's not a commitment. That's a promise to no one. That's like a "I might," "I could," "I would," not a "I will." I will is: here's what I'm doing today, and here's why. Here's how I'm going to do it. Here's how I'm going to measure it. Here's how I'm going to be very clear about how it's happening, and here's who I'm going to be accountable to.

See, so many of us are afraid to make the commitment to what we really want. We'll write it down. We'll think about it. We'll talk about it. We'll tell people about it, but we really don't make the "burn the boats" commitment to what we really want. We consistently de-escalate. "Well, I think I'm going to get in shape, but I don't know if I'm going to be able to do it." "I really want to lose weight on January 1st." "I've been so good about paying off debt, so I'm going to spend money out of my budget." Every one of those will move you away from where you want to go. Here's what I know about us: if we commit to a hunt and we start moving in that direction and we turn away for any reason, we lose focus on that outcome. We lose focus on that kill. We lose focus on that goal that we have, that change we want to make in our lives. We can lose focus on the momentum that we had in the first place.

I want you to stop playing not to lose. Stop de-escalating commitments. Make a commitment. Tell the people around you about it, and then inconsistently, every day, increase that commitment. Every one of us has set a goal and then had it fall apart. Every one of us has created an outcome we want and then not made the big enough commitment so that it didn't work out. Every one of us has had it happen, including me. But right now, today, you can take an entirely new view of this and say that from this point forward, from right now forward, I'm going to commit to this. I'm going to consistently escalate the commitment. I'm going to stop playing not to lose. I am only going to play to win.

This works even in the most difficult situations. I have a really good friend of mine who is in the process of quitting drinking. He shared with me very candidly recently that it's gotten a little out of control. It's more than what he wants. It's not helping his health. It's actually hurting him, and he knows it's hurting him. He's made the decision to back away. A few nights ago we were talking about it, and I said, "I think this is a conversation you should have with your wife. Let her know that you're quitting. Let her know that you are making a change here. Let her know that you are going to change this behavior and that this is what you want to do, and this is a commitment you're making."

His reply was one that I think anyone who's going through that might have. He said, "You know, Alex, my concern is what if I tell her and then it doesn't work out?" I said, "That's a de-escalation of your commitment. That is like you committing in advance that it's not really going to work out. That's like you thinking right now that what you're going to try and do is try and go do it on your own, not tell anybody about it, and then say, "Surprise. Look what I did." But the fact is we both know this is a process. We both know this is going to take time, and we both know it probably won't be perfect; all of which are okay.

But if you just come home and stop drinking and don't tell your wife about it and she sees a change in behavior and then three weeks from now you have a slip, she's not going to know what's going on. If you've been drinking and it's gotten a little out of control and it's more than what you want, she knows that already. You owe it to her to sit down with her and be as transparent as you possibly can be because the transparency in and of itself is an escalation of commitment. When we are not transparent, when we don't tell people what's really going on, when we don't really put it out there, we are de-escalating our commitment.

He agreed that he'd sit down with his wife because this is the time he's really going to do this. Will it be perfect? I've never met anyone who quit drinking perfectly. You might have even stopped drinking completely, but it's still messy. Will he do it without any challenges? Absolutely not. That's why he should be transparent with his wife and everyone else around him, and let people know what's going on. But will he do it? My belief is, absolutely, yes. Because when we make a commitment and we consistently escalate our commitment and we move towards that outcome, that goal, that is the exact process that every entrepreneurial personality type, every evolutionary hunter throughout history has used to set extraordinary outcomes, and then go take them down. I want you to do the same thing.

Thanks for being with me here for Episode 55, The Tactics of Playing to Win. I can't wait to see you tomorrow for the next episode. This has been incredibly fun.

Just a quick update on our numbers. We hit 42,000 downloads today. It looks like today is going to be one of the biggest days that we've had so far. I can't thank you enough. Again, I know I've said this before, I feel like this is really our podcast, not just mine. Because [Cadey 00:15:24] and I have a lot to do with this and I'm recording the podcast, but the exposure, the attention, the audience, the membership, the people who are coming towards us, have everything to do with you. Thank you for sharing this, for reviewing this on iTunes, for telling your friends about it. It is exactly what's making it grow, and it is one of the most exciting things we've ever done.

In fact, it looks like we are going to have another record week. I just said we just crossed 42,000. I just pulled up the numbers while I was talking, we're almost at 43,000. Thank you so much for helping us get the downloads, for helping us get the word out there and for helping us help entrepreneurs around the world create momentum. Go out there. Set your goals. Choose your outcomes. Make sure they matter to you and then escalate your commitment along the way, and you will change the world.

Thank You For Listening!

I am truly grateful that you have chosen to spend your time listening to me and my podcast.

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With gratitude,


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